There is a definite pattern of how new trends and cultural values are established. I call it truth by assertion.
To the best of my knowledge, in the past, cultural value changes just seemed to happen gradually over time. I am sure with some study, historians can identify what factors came together to drive change, but to the casual observer, it seemed very natural and organic.
Today’s pattern is very intentional. A person or group will suddenly begin to assert that something is true. The most noticeable right now is, “There are more than two genders”. Some assert that there are an infinite number of genders and that each person can define their own gender.
The pattern is well defined and follows specific steps. It goes like this. Step one—Forcefully assert that something is true. Rational, reason and logic are of no importance. In fact, they should be avoided completely. The only thing that is important is that the assertion is made with confidence and force.
The second step is to communicate, by presentation, not by argument, the assumption of acceptance. That is to act as if the “truth” is obvious to anyone with an ounce of sense.
The third step is to communicate, by presentation, not by argument, the assertion is destined to become accepted nationally or even globally. The tone is that progressive persons are early adopters. If we are to evolve and improve as a society these are the changes which will inevitably come. In the world of propaganda this is known as the bandwagon effect. If people believe that the majority of people are going that way they will “jump on the bandwagon”.
The fourth step is to silence anyone who would even begin to disagree with the assertion. This can be done in several ways. You can simply ignore the person, treating them as if they are of no value and anything they say is not worth even acknowledging. Politicians are experts at this. They will use statements like, “I am not going to dignify that with a response.” Another method is to attack the person’s character. Normally this is done by labeling the person as a racist, bigot, homophobe, or some other label. These types of labels communicate that, “this person is hateful and bias to the point that they cannot think straight. Anything they say should be discarded without consideration. If you do consider anything they say, you are also…” (whatever the label is). In logic this is called an ad homonym argument, meaning to attack the messenger rather than the message.
Scoffing, ridiculing, and mocking are also amazingly effective. Comedians are experts at this. I am told the Madalyn Murray O’Hare, the famous atheist and communist, was very talented at this. Christians would challenge her to a debate. The Christians would have all the arguments and facts lined up. They would deliver them in a stern, formal style. Madelyn O’Hare would be lighthearted and up-beat. She would joke and mock and have a good time ridiculing her opponent. O’Hare would win the hearts of the audience with her lighthearted delivery. The onlookers would say to themselves. ‘I just want to have fun like her. I do not care about the facts if it means I have to be stern and sober like the Christians.’
Recently more steps have been added.
Step five—“Fact Checking” on social media. This has two levels. The first is tags, which infer that the information may not be accurate. It is not fact checking. It is designed to undermine confidence in the statements offered. The assertions are seldom if ever tagged with these warnings. Only opinions opposing the assertions are questioned. Note that a “warning” can be much more effective than an actual “fact check”. A “fact check” can be challenged. A “warning” cannot be challenged because It does not claim that the statement is inaccurate. It only says that it may be inaccurate. It places doubt in the minds of the reader.
Fact checking can, and often is, manipulative. On any issue you can find experts on both sides. They both claim to be factual. It is easy to produce the results you want by carefully selecting your sources and your experts. Simply put, fact checking is not necessarily factual.
Step six—Censorship. This takes place in several ways. The methods have been refined over the past decade or so. It works like this. Any person who may be effective in countering the assertion is identified. The they are labeled as mentioned above. One of the labels will always be that they are “controversial”. Then a small group of people are assembled to claim that statements made by the person are offensive and damaging. Many times, this is enough to cause the person to be denied the opportunity to be heard. This method has been used on college campuses and elsewhere to prevent scheduled speakers the opportunity to speak. The same technique is being used to censor individuals on social media.
If the first attempt to censor fails, then they move it up a notch. They add that if the person is permitted to voice their opinion then violence may erupt. The source of the violence is not important. They may claim that the person will incite his/her followers to violence. Or the public may be so offended that spontaneous violence will erupt. The claim will be made that in the interest of public safety this person must be censored. If necessary, a violent protest is staged to prove their point. Of course, the people responsible for the violence are not held accountable. Instead, the speaker is blamed for inciting violence.
Step seven—Cancel culture. In cancel culture, anyone who is considered a threat to the assertion is threated and attacked. The first level of this is to find something that they have said and twist, distort or reinterpret it, to make it “offensive” or “hateful”. Then ask for a public apology. This is amazingly effective. It gives power and control to the persons making the accusations. It discredits the person whose words have been twisted. It reinforces the labels. Seldom is the apology accepted as honest and sincere. This form of attack tends to make people self-censoring. They speak out less. They are much more guarded in what they say and how they say it. In essence the attacker continues to control the persons speech.
Most often a person’s financial livelihood is threated. They are told that what they said is so offensive that they must resign from their position or they are fired. Note that they are not fired based on their job performance. They are fired based on their personal beliefs or freely expressing their beliefs or the media spin that has been placed on their statements. Again, this type of attack is extremely effective. Not only do they lose their livelihood, but they also no longer have access to the microphone (the ability to access a large audience). Often, they are afraid to make future statements that may result in retaliation. The attack does not end at them losing their job. Family is attacked and possibly anyone associated with them are attacked. The intent is to blacklist them so no one will hire them.
Cancel culture extends way beyond the individual. The same methods of intimidation are used against businesses and corporations. They are told that they must get on board and support the assertion, or they may be subject to boycotts. This technique was used quite effectively by Jessie Jackson and the Rainbow Coalition. His method was extortion. He would approach a major corporation to publicly support and donate to his organization. If they refused, he would label them as racist and call for a boycott. More often than not, the corporations would capitulate and make a large donation. For many years Jessie Jackson went from one corporation to another extorting money in this way.
The thing that is most frightening about these methods is that they were used successfully in Nazi Germany. The Nazis used these tactics of intimidation to silence and destroy anyone who might oppose them. The free exchange of ideas came to an abrupt end. Only one voice was heard. Everyone must comply or be crushed. There was one Party and one opinion. The Party only needed to assert that something was true. No longer were concepts examined and debated. No longer were there a wide range of opinions that leads to deeper understanding of the complexities of society. They crossed the line to a totalitarian government which wreaked havoc on the world. The Nazis tactics have been used and refined by many other totalitarian regimes. My fear is that when we begin to use these tactics we start down a path which will lead us to totalitarianism.